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J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2008 Jul-Sep;22(3):153-60.

Ability of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to activate interferon response in vitro is predictive of virological response in HCV patients.

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Laboratory of Virology, National Institute for Infectious Diseases (INMI) L. Spallanzani, Rome, Italy.


The most reliable predictor of treatment efficacy in hepatitis C is HCV viremia decay at week 12 [early virological response (EVR)]. We investigated whether the ability of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) to mount an interferon (IFN) response in vitro could be predictive of EVR. Fifteen patients treated with PEG IFNalpha + RBV, with pre-therapy frozen PBMC, were retrospectively selected. After a 3 hr PBMC exposure to IFNalpha in vitro, up-regulation of mRNA for IFN-stimulated genes (ISG) was measured by membrane super-array. ISG mRNA levels in unstimulated PBMC were low, but beta2M and CASP1 were significantly higher in EVR vs non-EVR. ISG mRNA up-regulation by IFN was more pronounced in EVR vs non-EVR. For 7 genes (IP-10, IFIT1, IFIT2, IFIT3, TRAIL, KIAA1628 and OAS2) cut-off levels were established, by ROC analysis, able to correctly classify all EVR and non-EVR. Early virological response to PEG IFNalpha +RBV is correlated with the pre-therapy ability of PBMC to activate an IFN response in vitro. If validated in a wider cohort of patients, the ability of this set of ISG to discriminate between EVR and non-EVR may be useful for pre-therapy evaluation, particularly in patients with unfavourable combinations of conventional response predictors.

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